May is National Electrical Safety Month!
May is National Electrical Safety Month!
Tasked with updating those ancient light switches in the kitchen? Standing in front of the hundreds of options available at the home improvement store, you narrow it down to two choices — one is $4, the other is 75 cents. But if you don’t know what type of wiring is in your home, it’s a decision that could cost you much more than the few dollar difference between the two switches.
Your home was built with either copper or aluminum wiring. Knowing which one you’re working with is critically important when considering any electrical improvements or repairs.
Due to the exorbitant cost of copper in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many homes built during this time have aluminum wiring. It was quickly discovered, however, that the quality of the aluminum being used put these homes at a higher risk for fires. A study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that homes built before 1972 and wired with aluminum are 55 times more likely to have an outlet wiring connection reach fire hazard conditions than those wired with copper. This risk can increase if the wrong replacement parts are used or if rewiring is done incorrectly.
Copper and aluminum wired electrical systems are not interchangeable. They require different types of wiring, switches and connectors, with the aluminum components often being quite a bit more expensive than their copper counterparts.
“Beyond making sure you are using the correct type of wiring and connectors, working with electricity is tricky and dangerous, with a risk for electrocution injuries, home fires and more,” CCFR Assistant Chief Steve Brown says. “When you are considering home improvement projects, leave the electrical projects to a qualified electrician. What might be a higher upfront investment will be worth it in the long run.”
Brown has witnessed these types of fires as recently as this year, when an improperly wired electric cooktop set a house ablaze right here in our community.
If you have a home built in the 1960s or ‘70s, it can be tricky to determine whether you have aluminum or copper wiring because of the way it was originally labeled. If you think you may have aluminum wiring, it is important to have your home evaluated by a qualified electrician to determine whether it should be replaced or repaired. When hiring an electrician, ensure they are licensed and have experience with both aluminum and copper wiring.
Still trying to decide which switch to get? It’s time to call an electrician.
Dreaming of your next vacation? Thinking of staying in a vacation rental (ie. Airbnb, VRBO, etc.) instead of a hotel? Before you make your reservations, make sure you read this first!
A 2018 study published in the journal Injury Prevention found that many Airbnb properties lack basic fire safety features. According to the study, 20 percent of Airbnb property owners did not report having smoke alarms; 42.5 percent did not report having carbon monoxide alarms; and 58 percent didn’t report having fire extinguishers.
While fire safety advocates have urged Airbnb and similar vacation or short-term rental companies to enforce current National Fire Protection Association fire safety standards, without uniform regulation across the country, it’s essential that travelers be proactive about fire safety at their home away from home.
If you decide to stay at an Airbnb, VRBO or other rental property while traveling this spring/summer, make sure to review this safety checklist from the NFPA:
By following this simple checklist and acting as your own fire safety advocate, you can relax and know that your vacation won’t go up in smoke!
We work hard to protect our homes from fire, by installing and regularly testing smoke alarms, avoiding common fire hazards and teaching fire safety to family members of all ages.
But do you know how to practice fire safety when you’re out in public places? A fire can happen anywhere, anytime, and in an unfamiliar setting, it’s easy to panic. The National Fire Protection Association has put together some suggestions to help you feel safe wherever you go!
Before You Enter
Before you enter any public building, take a good look around and make sure it feels safe, well maintained and easy to exit. You should have a clearly communicated exit plan, as well as an agreed-upon meeting point and a designated emergency contact in case you need to leave the building quickly. You should locate all available exits; plan to use the closest exit, as the main exit might not always be accessible during an emergency.
After identifying all available exits, you’ll want to make sure the path to each exit is clear, and that exit doors are not blocked or chained. Public spaces should have at least two clear exits.
Take note of any other possible fire hazards, such as overcrowding, unsafe heat sources, pyrotechnics or lack of standard safety systems such as sprinklers and smoke alarms.
If you do not feel safe in the building, leave immediately. If necessary, report violations to building management and the local fire marshal.
During An Emergency
The best thing you can do in the face of a fire is to react immediately.
“If an alarm sounds, you see smoke or fire, or some other unusual disturbance immediately exit the building in an orderly fashion,” the NFPA warns.
Then, get out — and stay out! — so that trained firefighters can conduct rescue operations.
No one wants to miss out on Aug. 21’s total solar eclipse. Here are some CCFR-approved tips to make sure you and your family are able to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event safely!
Viewing the Eclipse
The most-often given piece of eclipse safety advice — don’t look directly at it — can’t be given often enough. Looking directly at a solar eclipse can result in permanent vision loss.
Instead, viewers should wear an approved pair of solar viewers, purchased from a reputable manufacturer and featuring an ISO 12312-2 certification. Eclipse glasses are thousands of times darker than regular sunglasses and block out all other light. Keep a close eye on curious kids, who might be tempted to take their glasses off, or keep them indoors until the two or so minutes of totality, when it is safe to view the eclipse without solar viewers. Not everyone in St. Louis is in the path of totality; click here for NASA’s map to determine where your location falls in the path.
Driving During the Eclipse
Parts of the St. Louis area will see a total eclipse, while others will see a partial eclipse. Tourists are already flocking to towns in the path of totality and traffic is expected to be a major issue in the area. If you are planning to drive somewhere to view the eclipse, give yourself plenty of time to get there and make sure you keep these recommendations from the Department of Transportation in mind if you end up behind the wheel during the event:
Being prepared before, and knowing what to do after the storm hits are critical to the safety of those who experience severe weather.
It’s simple, working smoke alarms save lives. Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
CCFR encourages everyone to take two minutes on the second of every month to check their smoke alarms.You can test your alarm by pressing the test button in the center of the alarm.
If you cannot reach your smoke alarm, cannot change the batteries, or have other questions about your smoke alarm contact CCFR for complimentary assistance at 636.970.9700 or email us.
Millions of toy boxes, storage containers and hope chests have lids that automatically latch shut, or can close suddenly. This can be deadly if a child climbs inside. The recent death of two children prompted the Consumer Product Safety Commission to renew its warning to consumers about the dangers of these boxes. Click here for details.
In 2004 Facebook was launched and Friends left our televisions. It seems like yesterday, but if that’s the last time you replaced your smoke alarms it’s time for a change.
“Working smoke detectors are critical to saving lives in a house fire, and as they age they become less reliable,” says CCFR Chief Russ Mason. As the electrical components in the alarms get older they become more susceptible to false alarms and other problems.
Smoke alarms save lives by giving people an opportunity to escape a fire before it is too late. “Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms,” says Mason. “Simply updating and maintaining your smoke detectors could save your life.”
Install smoke alarms:
If you do not know how, or cannot replace your smoke alarm batteries, cannot afford a smoke alarm, or have other smoke alarm questions CCFR can provide complimentary assistance. Call CCFR at 636.970.9700, or e-mail us for details.
Spontaneous combustion fires may sound like something out of a science fiction movie; unfortunately it is a dangerous situation that has hit two local businesses in the past year. In both of the incidents, freshly laundered towels placed on a counter caused a chemical reaction to occur, and a fire ensued.
When towels or other linens soiled with cooking oil or cleaning chemicals are washed in a normal washer and dryer they are not truly clean; residue remains on the linens. The heat of the dryer can start and accelerate the spontaneous heating process of the oil residue left in the towels. When they are piled together the heat has no way to escape and the natural material continues to heat up until a fire occurs. A similar reaction can occur if a washer or dryer used to launder soiled linens is not cleaned and well maintained.
We highly recommend that you send your laundry out to a commercial laundry service that has the proper equipment to handle these volatile oils and cleaning chemicals.
If you have any questions about how to keep your business safe, or if you would like CCFR firefighters to provide complimentary employee training on fire extinguisher usage, or other safety topics please do not hesitate to call us at 636.970.9700 or send us an email. With your help we can keep our community safe.